Radical Hindus stormed a bar last Saturday in Mangalore, in south-west India, and dragged out young women by kicking and slapping them.

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The attack was carried out on the afternoon of 24 January by the Sri Ram Sena (Lord Ram's Army), a religious fundamentalist group that aims to preserve Indian culture by targeting interfaith relationships, religious conversions and even Valentines Day, which is perceived as a Western deviation. The incident has reignited the debate over "pub culture" and what is morally acceptable for women in modern India. Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said "We definitely condemn the incident where women were attacked, but the pub culture must stop". Concerning the group that carried out the attack, local daily Hindustan Times described them as "closer to the misogynistic, liberty-hating Taliban than it thinks".

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"None of the victims or their parents came forward to bear witness to the crime perpetrated on them"

Margaret Dabreo is a social worker from Mangalore. She took part in the protests against the attacks.

Mangalore culture is changing because despite what the BJP [Hindu national ruling party] might say, the Sri Ram Sena has been adopted into their family. After the pub incidents mothers are afraid for their daughters. None of the victims or their parents came forward to bear witness to the crime perpetrated on them."

"The girls today are scared to be seen in public with boys"

Prabha Kamat, 44, is an art seller in Mangalore.  

The issue to me is not so much about the so called 'pub culture' as it is about hooliganism. A north Indian friend commented on how women were not targeted in the north like what's happened in Mangalore. I felt terribly ashamed.

There have been fourteen similar incidents in the last six months which have just not been publicised as much. The latest is the proverbial last straw. The girls today are scared to be seen in public with boys, especially those of another religion! We in Mangalore are normally a laid back lot, but now I feel things have come to a head. That is why some of us ordinary women of Mangalore are taking courage and speaking out [following the attack, protests have been held in support of women's rights]."

"If you want to respect culture, then you can start by respecting women"

Poorvi, 18, is a student in Mangalore. Her friends were in the bar the day of the attack.  

This self-appointed moral police love to warn people with these attacks; if they see couples in the street they stop them. There's always been a freedom curb for youngsters here. But this is just preposterous. It's unbelievable how they still consider women as inferior to men. It's very disturbing to live among such ridiculous people. As I see it, this is not the end of it, there could be more attacks and I am sure that nobody feels safe. If you want to respect culture, then you can start by respecting women. We live in a democratic country and nobody can force anything on anyone!"